Teacher Appreciation Week is a Pathetic Joke!

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It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, America!

All over the country, millions of educators can look forward to a free burrito. Or maybe an Arby’s sandwich. Or a complimentary donut.

Because we REALLY appreciate teachers here.

What a pathetic joke!

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful.

I’ll redeem my coupon at Chipotle. I’ll take that Roast Beef Classic. I’ll grab that Dunkin’ Cruller.

But let’s be honest. These cheesy buy-one-get-one coupons don’t demonstrate appreciation. They’re guilt.

They’re a manifestation of the feeling that we SHOULD appreciate teachers, but don’t. Not really.

Not for one week, not for one day!

Why else would we begrudge them a middle class income? Why else would we provide them with so few resources and so much responsibility? Why else would we bar them from making any meaningful decisions about how their students should be taught yet hold them accountable for everything their students do?

Appreciate teachers? We don’t LISTEN to them. We don’t RESPECT them. Many of us don’t even LIKE them.

The only time we value teachers is when a maniac enters a school with a gun. Then – when they protect our children with their very lives – then we praise them as heroes!

On that day and that day only. But every other day – not so much.

We won’t do anything to keep guns out of the hands of school shooters. At most we want to arm teachersGreat! Something else to be responsible for on top of education, counseling and children’s all around well-being. But otherwise, we won’t do anything to help teachers do their jobs. And we certainly won’t listen to their professional opinions on anything!

That would be living in a culture of life. But we live in a culture of death.

We do the barest minimum for children – especially poor and minority kids. Instead we invest in parasitic business interests that provide zero value for students and parents.

We’ve got nothing for teachers or proven educational practices but we throw public money at charter, private and parochial schools that only accept the cream of the crop and turn down everyone else – yet still rarely do better than inclusive public schools. We defund public schools until they can no longer operate – and then we close them as failures. We promote lightly trained Teach for America temps to the same status as authentic educators with a 4-5 year degree and decades of experience. And we do everything we can to bust their unions and take away collective bargaining rights.

Yet everywhere I look I see people congratulating themselves for donating to some teacher’s GoFundMe project. This may come as a shock to you, but we shouldn’t be resorting to charity to fund our public schools! That should be a given!

In almost every classroom in America, teachers reach into their own pockets to make up the difference when our federal, state and local governments come up short. When kids don’t have pencils, we provide them. When kids don’t have books, we buy them. When kids come to school hungry, we even feed them.

Yet you’re getting excited that anonymous folks on the Internet put a few virtual coins in the cup!

I’ve been a public school teacher for almost 15 years. Next year I can look forward to another increase in class size. And I’ll probably have to teach an additional grade level or two. No extra resources to help me do it. No extra salary. Just more of a drain on my time to get the job done. And if I somehow stumble and fall, it will be my fault.

It won’t be the federal government’s fault even though they keep providing less financial help and more standardized testing, Common Core, and so-called school choice policies that rob my district of necessary funding.

It won’t be the state’s fault as they refuse to heal years worth of budget cuts in order to lower taxes on the wealthy, a scheme that, by the way, did nothing to boost the economy – in fact, it actually stalled business development. Nor will it be the state’s fault as they continue to blame me for the high cost of pensions they forgot to pay years ago while both my district and I paid on time. Nor will it be the state’s fault as they try to strip me of sick days, preserve loopholes that benefit charter schools at my district’s expense and experiment with a new funding scheme that further drains my district’s coffers.

It won’t be my local school board or administration’s fault, either, as they make cuts to core educational resources so they can preserve the state champion football team and less vital faculty office and administrative staff who are only working there because of nepotism and/or politics.

It’ll be MY fault. Mine and mine alone. That’s how much we appreciate teachers.

And none of it is even close to changing. No one is even considering altering the tiniest fraction of it. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, men, women, black people, white people, gay people, straight people, the young, the old – no one is doing anything about it!

And why should we? We’ve already got a scapegoat. We’ve already got someone to blame.

Well, look in the mirror, America. Because you’re the one to blame – each and every star-spangled banner and amber wave of grain.

We’ve made it like this. All of us.

I don’t mean to be so negative, but all these Pollyanna platitudes about that one special teacher obscure a basic truth. As individuals, we sometimes appreciate teachers – often when we’re years beyond graduation, or sometimes only when we’re parents, ourselves, and see what they do for our children. But that’s personal. That’s individuals.

When we think about the nations teachers, when we think about the profession in general, we don’t appreciate them one bit.
Because if we did, we’d act much differently.

If we really appreciated teachers, we’d hire more of them. We wouldn’t demand they do more with less. When we were deciding school policy at any level – federal, state or local – we’d include them in the process – in fact, they’d be the deciding factor!

If we really appreciated teachers, we wouldn’t wait – as many folks do – until they call us to find out how our children are doing in school. We’d be proactive. And if our kids aren’t doing well, we wouldn’t blame the teacher. We’d hold our own kids responsible and look for solutions.

If we really appreciated teachers, we wouldn’t blame them for their summer breaks. We’d understand that they aren’t paid for this time yet they often take professional development courses on their own dime or work retail just to make ends meet.

If we really appreciated teachers, we’d respect them as professionals, and we’d pay them accordingly. We’d respect their rights to a positive working environment both for themselves and for our own children.

So seriously – you can stuff your ridiculous Teacher Appreciation Week.

A free cookie just isn’t going to do it.

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24 thoughts on “Teacher Appreciation Week is a Pathetic Joke!

  1. You know, Steven. I was gonna tweet it, but after looking at all the tweets on your timeline that read- “Teacher appreciation week is a pathetic joke”, I have decided otherwise.

    I don’t disagree with what you wrote. But this headline’s written to stick, and it will stick. In future, things may become worst, maybe would stay as they are, maybe things would become better; however, this headline will continue to do damage. Damage to a day that’s important. It’s just like Thanksgiving – that’s one day people try to act better. They may still remain shit, but that one day a lot of people do try. And, in the process, some actually become good folks too. That’s the hope of Thanksgiving. The same rule applies here – it’s day when people get a chance to try. Sulking just doesn’t work.

    You are a good guy! Perhaps, a great teacher too! But, bitter language ain’t gonna bring better. You may have meant good – you do good too – but a headline as bitter as this can cause irreparable damage.

    Like

    • I see where you’re coming from, Apurva, but sometimes bitter language is called for. Everything is not okay with the way teachers are treated in America, and no amount of BOGO coupons or even GoFundMe donations are going to fix it. We have to acknowledge the uncaring, ignorant, anti-intellectual, corporate worshipping attitudes of the country. And if my language is shocking, well I am a gadfly, after all.

      Like

      • I agree with everything you say and I believe you have the right to be angry and bitter. There is one thing that I need to add, though. You are very outspoken and opinionated and I’m sure that you say “yes” to your administrators and then walk down the hall, close your classroom door, and teach your students how you think is best regardless of curriculum standards, teaching to the test and student outcome (test results). The problem is that you don’t have many outspoken and opinionated teachers in your corner. I’m a parent (not a teacher) and I don’t see many teachers taking a stand or fighting for what is right for students. Teachers seem to be like sheeple in accepting what the higher ups demand. When teachers start to revolt (en masse) against the system, then you all will get the respect that is deserved. It happened in Long Island and it can happen in any town USA. You have to understand that parents have been taken out of the school equation under the guise that the government is doing it’s best for students. Well, it’s really coming to light that the government hasn’t been doing right for a long time now about a lot of issues. Now is the time to unite, to revolt, and to take back what is yours and for the good of the children. Now is the time that parents will start to listen.

        Like

      • Lisa,

        Yes, teachers and educator are a lot like sheeple. It amounts to a form of the Stockholm Syndrome. We have had to adapt to our situations to keep our jobs, food on the table and a roof over our heads.

        When you are threatened with your job and your career at every turn then it makes is very difficult to be outspoken. I would love to see more teacher/educators stand up and fight for what is right but some many are just plain scared.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @ drext727. I understand it all. My sister just retired after more than 30 years in the classroom. It’s more than the paycheck, it’s health insurance and retirement. But if teachers don’t start doing something, they will be out of the job anyway….with no retirement and no health insurance AND no paycheck. Teachers need to realize that the whole profession will go away if they don’t start doing something….NOW! To keep waiting for better times is guaranteed suicide for the profession. I love teachers and what they stand for, but I have children in public school and it angers me that so many teachers just abide by the rules…..they look bad, they get blamed, the kids don’t learn and the behavior problems get worse and worse.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa M and David are correct about teachers (and worse the adminimals that supposedly have a higher better knowledge base-LOL) who are too compliant. My term is GAGA (Go Along to Get Along) Good Germans for their abilities to look the other way in implementing malpractices that harm the children, the students-banality of evil as Arendt would put it.

        Like

    • Apurva, it’s understandable people will be uncomfortable with the language in this essay, but the fact is being nice won’t cut it in the current climate. The goal of those in the political arena is the total elimination of free public education, and they thrive when those who oppose them and are their victims suffer in silence or respond with “Please, sir, can I have some more?”

      These artificially created “celebrations” are designed to allow people to feel as if they’ve done something useful. They’re like all the petitions people spread around on social media that mainly collect data so the petition site can sell it and make money. Worse, the more the proliferate the more they engender indifference to the very issues they’re supposed to be raising attention for. Like anything else, the more people’s brains are drowned by a message, the sooner they’ll tune it out.

      And given far too many people still aren’t truly aware of just how much damage “education reform” has done to our public education system, “teacher appreciation week” is worse than useless, for all the reasons Mr. Singer has cited.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find this really sad. There are parents out there that really appriciate you and the work you do. My son’s teacher has made a world of difference with him. He is adhd. He is not easy to deal with at times. This year he has come so far and learned so much.

    Your wording is harsh and angry. And un-nessacarily so. Most of the parents you refer to are not rich. And it maybe that that cookie you get is the only way they can say thank you.

    You want to place blame? Blame the current social climate our country is in. The ideas of respect and honor are out. They’ve been replaced with the ideas disrespect and hatred. These ideas fuel anger. Which then leads to the violence and distruction we’ve seen so much of recently.

    You want society and government to respect and appriciate you. How do you expect that to happen when our current social climate doesn’t allow for that nor has any patience for that?

    I spent a few days this year volunteering as a watchdog at my son’s school. Helping his teacher, and doing whatever they needed me to do to help out there. The government takes money from me to give to the public school system to help keep it running. I personally can’t give raises, improve benefits, add extra teachers and so on. I gave what i could give. My time.

    So go ahead and be ungrateful for those of us who do give what we can to show you appriciation. I am sorry that what we do, at least in your eyes, isn’t good enough. If it’s all we can do, it is all we can do.

    And whatever you do please don’t carry that anger and harshness in to your classroom with you. I don’t want the kids to learn from you that anger and harshness is a viable and accecptable way to approach an important subject or need when it isn’t. That it will get you what you want when it won’t.

    Believe me when i tell you i appriciate all that teachers do in meeting the educational needs of a child.

    Don’t take it for granted when a parent tells you they do. Even if it’s only by giving you a gift during teacher appriciation week.

    Like

    • Greg, of course I appreciate whatever anyone does for teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. But I have to be honest. As a society, it isn’t enough, and it doesn’t represent real appreciation equal to all we actually do for children. Furthermore, it isn’t a problem that just appeared with this Presidential Administration. It’s been this way for decades. Let me be clear: Any thank you, no matter how small, is welcome. But no amount of cookies or gift cards will ever equal the kinds of things I’ve outlined here. If you really want to show teachers you appreciate them, fight for the profession. Fight to give us the power and respect we need to get the job done. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Young people are choosing to become anything but teachers. If we as a society don’t do something soon, there won’t be any teachers left to educate the next generation. Don’t take offense at anything I’ve said. Take offense at a situation that prompts me saying it!

      Like

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